UKIP’s NEC has voted to expel Steven Woolfe’s campaign manager from the party, in what Woolfe’s allies claim is a plot to stop their man becoming leader. Nathan Gill, UKIP’s leader in Wales and a key ally of Nigel Farage, faces being kicked out unless he resigns as an MEP to free up a space for another candidate. Leaked emails show the NEC members who voted to expel Gill include Douglas Carswell, as well as Piers Wanchope and Marion Mason, two of the three members of the vetting panel which will decide whether Woolfe is allowed to stand. Friends of Woolfe fear this is a sign the vetting panel is weighted against him and claim there is a plot to block him from getting on the ballot.
Supporters of Lisa Duffy deny this and argue Woolfe should not qualify to stand because his membership lapsed. Sources close to Woolfe say he is considering taking legal action if he is kept off the ballot. One insider comments: “There are so many bloody factions in UKIP at the moment, it makes Syria look like a piece of cake…”
UPDATE: Sources stress this was an “informal vote”, whatever that means, and Gill allies say it will be fiercely contested.
UPDATE II: Farage launches a blistering attack on the NEC:
“The barrier to radical change and the modernisation of UKIP was implanted in the mid-1990’s. It is called the National Executive Committee. Many of its current crop are among the lowest grade of people I have ever met… People with no qualification in business or politics make the ultimate decisions of whom should be our candidate at a by-election. Or whether the former disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton should be given a route back to public life via being elected as an Assembly Member in Wales… The new Leader of UKIP should bypass the vanity of such people and make big decisions about UKIP’s future via direct polling of the membership.”
Guido has got hold of the PayPal receipt for Steven Woolfe’s £5,000 UKIP leadership deposit, showing he paid the money at 11:35am, 25 minutes before the midday deadline. His nomination papers were not received until 12:17pm due to a “technical glitch”. UKIP’s leadership vetting panel is meeting on Tuesday to decide whether Woolfe should be allowed on the ballot. The sensible thing would be to let him on – also would have been sensible not to cut it so fine…
UKIP officials are meeting on Tuesday to determine if Steven Woolfe is on the leadership ballot after he missed the midday nomination deadline. Woolfe’s spokesman insists he is still a candidate and that he submitted his papers on time, claiming a technical glitch meant it didn’t go through:
“Steven Woolfe remains a candidate in the UKIP leadership contest. He submitted his application form at 11.35am this morning, in advance of the midday deadline. However, due to technical problems on the party system, it did not successfully go through until 12.17pm.
“Mr Woolfe was speaking to party officials responsible for handling the application process throughout this time and right up to the deadline. He informed them that he was having technical problems. These problems were finally resolved and the paperwork submitted.”
There is also some speculation that Diane James is on the ballot. She was previously thought not to be in the running. It could only happen to UKIP…
Anti-Faragist forces on UKIP’s National Executive Committee are working to keep Steven Woolfe off the ballot, according to sources in the room. The NEC is dominated by supporters of Neil Hamilton and Douglas Carswell who want to stop the Farage candidate and install Lisa Duffy as leader. Woolfe is backed by Nigel and a string of his allies including Nathan Gill, Peter Whittle, Tim Aker, Arron Banks, William Dartmouth and David Coburn. Yesterday UKIP sources briefed out that Woolfe was ineligible to stand because (they claim) his membership had lapsed. Woolfe has an email from party chairman Steve Crowther appearing to dismiss this allegation as nonsense:
“The threshold for membership of the Party for this leadership election is two years, from 11 July 2014 – 11 July 2016. You have been a member of the European Parliament for UKIP throughout that period, regarded as a member in good standing. There is no apparent record on this file of your having been sent a standard membership subscription request during that time.”
Yet the anti-Woolfe faction of the NEC is still seeking to disqualify Woolfe in what seems a pretty unsubtle stitch up. A four-person panel is set to meet at 3pm on Sunday to ‘vet’ the candidates, and Woolfe allies are concerned about a weighted panel voting to kick him out of the contest. A coronation for Lisa Duffy is not going to go down well with members, they will want a fair fight…
UPDATE: Carswell gets in touch to stress he hasn’t got a dog in the fight.
WATCH: Suzanne Evans endorses Lisa Duffy for UKIP leader. Who? pic.twitter.com/V7KSXsk4j9
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) July 26, 2016
Suzanne Evans’ “major announcement” this morning was that she is endorsing councillor Lisa Duffy for UKIP leader. Who? Lisa describes herself as Patrick O’Flynn’s chief of staff and the “Chair of Ramsey Christmas Lights”. She has been an important and well-liked behind-the-scenes organiser in recent years. Emphasis on ‘behind the scenes’ – she has just 200 Twitter followers and Guido can’t recall ever having seen her on TV. Suzanne says Lisa will take the party to the centre and get rid of the image created by Nigel Farage, which won four million votes at the election and helped win the referendum. It’s Steven Woolfe’s to lose…